New in Home Entertainment – April 26, 2016

Son of Saul

New in Home Entertainment

April 26, 2016

Son of Saul
Rated R for some disturbing content, and some graphic nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
In German and Hungarian with English Subtitles
This Hungarian Oscar winner for best foreign film tells the story of a nazi concentration camp worker, whose job it is to facilitate mass murder and dispose of bodies in Auschwitz, who discovers a young body he takes to be his son and does everything he can to give the young man a proper Jewish burial. With extremely well choreographed long takes that give the film a tremendous point-of-view fluidity, this is as much of an artistic enterprise as it is a powerful drama about a man losing and then doing anything he can to regain his humanity. It’s a tough film for sure, but worth the watch on multiple levels. A-

Rated PG-13 for sequences of horror violence/terror, language and some drug material
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 66%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
When a young boy loses his faith in Christmas during a dysfunctional family holiday visit, the demonic spirit of Krampus visits his home to wreak havoc. The first time I had ever heard of Krampus was when Rainn Wilson brought him to life on The Office several years ago, but believe it or not, he is very much a part of European folklore for families who would rather scare their kids into being good rather than incentivize them with Santa. This particular film does all the right things with a very recognizable cast and solid production. The third act is a little weird and the ending could have been better executed, but I can see warped families enjoying this one for many Christmas times to come. B-

Phoenix: The Criterion Collection Edition
Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements and brief suggestive material
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
In German with English Subtitles
Getting the Criterion treatment this month is this 2015 German film about a Jewish woman who has undergone reconstructive surgery from a bullet wound after WWII only to find no one recognizes her, including her husband. When she goes to find her husband, he not only doesn’t realize it is her, but tries to persuade her to help him pretend she is his wife so he can collect on her inheritance. This fascinating story is never dull to watch and has one of the most rewarding endings of any of last year’s films. While the plot is a bit contrived, it is never less than intriguing. B

New in Home Entertainment – April 19, 2016


New in Home Entertainment

April 19, 2016

The Revenant
Rated R for strong frontier combat and violence including gory images, a sexual assault, language and brief nudity
Available on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD
Leonardo DiCaprio was bound to win an Oscar for best actor and I’m so glad it came from this monumental film about a fur trapper seeking revenge for the murder of his son. Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and legendary cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki create a dark and cold journey of vengeance that will make you feel like you are too close to the action and in very real danger. With subtle special effects that feel all too authentic, the movie recreates a world long gone in a way that tricks your mind into thinking the filmmakers might have invented time travel rather than becoming masters of production. And if you’re lucky enough to own a 4K television set or projector, the infamous bear scene will be the one segment you show off to your friends over and over for years to come. A+

Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead
Not Rated but equivalent to a hard R for language, adult themes and nudity
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Having grown up watching Animal House and Vacation, I always loved National Lampoon, but never really understood where they came from or considered their legacy. This new documentary from Magnolia shows the history of the magazine, from its inception as the Harvard Lampoon in the late 60’s to its last issue in 1998 and everything since. Interviewing key people from the magazine as well as those it has influenced in the comedy world, this funny yet educational doc gives us a close look at the folks who are largely responsible for the shape of American comedy today. B

Veep: The Complete Fourth Season
Rated TV-MA
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
In its fourth season, HBO’s hit show starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the dysfunctional Vice President proves that there is a never ending amount of source material to make you cringe and laugh at when it comes to politics. In a move way too similar to its more serious counterpart House of Cards, Selina is now the president and her main concern is appearing to be presidential. The show is still a laugh riot and the perfect following when you need to relax your mind after an intense episode of Game of Thrones. Both start up again this Sunday, April 24. B+

A Whit Stillman Trilogy: Metropolitan, Barcelona, The Last Days of Disco (The Criterion Collection)
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
In the 90s, filmmaker Whit Stillman hit us hard with these terrific dialog-heavy dramadies surrounding young people in a changing and evolving world. Each story is very different yet still extremely similar in tone and voice. Criterion is packaging this set as a trilogy, which is very fitting considering the overall arch of the films. We talk about television binging a lot these days, but these three films make for a binge-worthy feast as well. It might be a good time for a sick day. A-

New in Home Entertainment – April 5, 2016

Star Wars

New in Home Entertainment

April 5, 2016

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
The biggest movie of 2015 (and the reigning all-time box-office king) hits store shelves this week where it will most likely break records again. Continuing the saga, the film takes place decades after Return of the Jedi where a defected storm trooper (John Boyega) joins forces with a beautiful young scavenger (Daisy Ridley) as they find themselves the target of an Empire-like First Order and their leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Joining forces with an aged Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca, the team attempts to take on the First Order while they are on a desperate search for the missing Luke Skywalker. Director J.J. Abrams here did an impressive job of giving us everything that was sacred from Episodes IV-VI while at the same time delivering special effects that have a completely organic look and feel to them. Sure the plot around the Star Killer Base is pretty similar to what we’ve seen before, but overall the similarities are well-handled and the differences give us something to hope for in future films, which will be coming at a rapid pace over the next several years. Included in this set is a good amount of supplemental material worth watching including a rather intricate look at how the film was put together from concept to completion. I wish they had included at least a trailer for the new Rogue One film coming in December but I’m sure that’s all coming soon. A

Noma: My Perfect Storm
Unrated but contains much adult language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 54%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Rather than making another simple food porn movie about the world’s most celebrated restaurant, director Pierre Deschamps here gives a good, bad and ugly account of how chef Rene Redzepi has won the world over with his Copenhagen restaurant touting an all-Nordic cuisine menu. While I did come away with a pretty decent sense of the chef’s vision, I thought I’d be ready to book a trip to Denmark after watching and that just wasn’t the case. It’s a fascinating subject, and worthy of a feature-length documentary, but if they were trying to sell their audience on Redzepi and his food (and I’m not sure if that was their goal) then they could have done a better job with their presentation. B-